Topping a cocktail with soda or tonic is old hat for some people — gin and tonic, Scotch and soda, whiskey and ginger ale — simple bedrock drinks upon which drinkers of a certain age launched their relationship with spirits.
What if you could wipe the mixers from the equation, though, and still have that fizzy sandpaper texture roll across your tongue and the sides of your cheeks?
Enter carbonated cocktails, which can taste focused and seamless in a way that seems both familiar and slightly surreal.
At the newly opened Cork & Kerry in Farmingdale, a speakeasy-type space behind an unmarked storefront, beverage director Doug Brickel uses a carbon-dioxide tank to fizz up multigallon batches of pre-blended cocktails, and will change the drink monthly as is done at the other two C&Ks in Floral Park and Rockville Centre.
In February, they’re pouring Gaucho — an inky blend of the amaro Fernet Branca with ruby port wine, cola syrup for sweetness and citric acid. Served on the rocks, it tastes like a deeper, more herbal and pleasingly bitter iteration of rum and Coke, sans the rum.
Carbonated cocktails seem so simple, on their face, that you might be tempted to try them at home. But before you load your SodaStream with booze, know that each C&K carbonated drink goes through trial and error — and that when carbonating cocktails, you should avoid using lemons or limes.
“You want [a blend] that’s bright and citrusy, though you can’t use real citrus,” said Brickel, because the particles in lemons and limes that make the drink cloudy can also rile up the bubbles into a sort of soapy froth.
Instead, to achieve sourness, bartenders sometimes rely on acids isolated from their fruity sources — such as the citric acid found in lemons and limes — to mimic the spark that brings cocktails to life. (You can readily find citric acid online or near canning supplies in places such as Walmart).
Citric acid adds raciness to the Gaucho, and fools you into thinking it’s been spritzed with lime — a neat trick from a practiced hand.
C&K Farmingdale is at 230 Main St., Farmingdale.